In the early 1990’s Lynda Benglis began a serious and concentrated investigation into the use of fired glaze ceramic as a basis for a major body of sculptural works. Benglis, who received her BFA from Newcomb College (itself an institution rich in ceramic history) in 1964, approached the medium with an unusual degree of sophistication and understanding. The result was this body of work in which Benglis organically melded her own distinct vocabulary with the innate tendencies of the clay medium she embraced.
At first glance Benglis’s expressionistic splashes of glaze and roughhewn edges are reminiscent of styles explored in the early works of ceramic artists Peter Voulkos or John Mason. But Benglis injects her own brand of biomorphic vitality into objects that conjure anything from subterranean sloths to creatures of ancient myth. Her forms pose and perch, spire and ascend all with the fluidity of captured motion that has come to define the body of Benglis’s work performed in such diverse materials as glass, foam rubber, wax and bronze.
The title of the series Chimera perhaps refers to the dichotomous nature of the medium or the serpent like gestures of her forms. The postures of these objects, though, are more orbicular than serpentine and reflect the centrifugal nature of the medium. Extruded tubes, ribbons, strips and cylinders, are then leaned, layered, piled and tied into compositions that reflect both their elasticity and their solidity.
Six major works from the Chimera series are examined here with an eye for determining their significance within the overall context of the artist’s ouvre.
This exhibition is on view April 16 through May 22, 2004. For images and further information on the artist please contact the gallery at 212-246-5360.